Sometimes when you come to judge a book you capitulate straight away purely because of its subject. The Subjective Atlas of Palestine is a case in point. What country appeals more to the imagination than Palestine!? Not least because of the constant stream of harrowing images that the media dish up to us almost daily. It is a tragedy that has been holding our collective conscience hostage ever since 1948. In effect, we are now barely able to form any kind of picture of what day-to-day life in Palestine is really like.
That brings us straight to what is special about this atlas, which puts the one-sided approach of Western media up for discussion and at the same time gives us a picture of the present state of the country. We see everyday life as it is lived, from the daily bread to the cultural, social and political agenda. Palestinian artists, photographers and designers give a picture of their country that is informative, confrontational, but above all stimulating. So much information in a modest little book whose design is itself almost invisible.
There are no expansive gestures or clever printing tricks here: that is not what this book is about. Excellent picture editing means that the qualitatively very variable pictorial matter takes on an unobtrusive and almost natural unity and coherence. The spacious margins create an impression of openness. Format and typography are restrained yet in no way flat. The rounded corners and the fact that the running text is printed in a mild grey add extra emphasis to the friendly character of the design. A remarkable document that speaks softly to convey an important message.